|York Country Coast Star January 2001|
Russell Aharonian: the torch bearer of surrealism
|Kittery artist Russell Aharonian seemingly marches to his own drummer, but in reality, he is the torch bearer of surrealism in Maine today, and I dare say that we would be hard pressed to find an artist in the Northeast whose work is on the same wavelength of Aharonian's fantasy paintings that depict realities that exist only in his mind. It is through his use of spontaneous images that originate in his unconscious that connects Aharonian to surrealism.
Surrealism was born in Paris during the 1920's as a literary movement offshoot of DADA devoted to the exploration of pure psychic automation. In time, there was the realization that the structure and constraints of language limited surrealism's literary applications and that the visual art connected easily to the unconscious. The paintings and drawings of Bosch, Goya, Redon and other visual artists of earlier generations had in fact laid the groundwork for this linkage.
Aharonian's imagery is free flowing and less dependent on objects and structure from the real world as seen in the work of Dali, Duchamp and Man Ray, and morerelated to the fluid imagery of Jackson Pollock's Action Paintings. The excitement in keeping tabs on Aharonian and the other artists of his ilk is that we are never really prepared for what is to follow since their output reflects their unconscious which is in a constant state of flux like the patterns on a computer screen, except they seldom if ever repeat an image.
It is interesting to note that Aharoman, a graduate of the Art Institute in Boston, calls his art Biomorphic Abstract Expressionism which is in effect, a nod and reference to his being influenced by both the surrealists and the abstract expressionists. Though he is the antithesis of a technocrat, Aharonian uses a computer as an extension of his mind and a means to enhance his spontaneity and augment his ability to come up with new
images. He claims that working with a computer enables him to "go to a fresh canvas and -work from the inside without connections to the outside world."
To greater or lesser degrees, all art reflects facets of an artist's inner life through the choice of subject, content, palette, design dynamics, use of space, etc. Aharonian's art is curvaceous and sensual, bordering on the erotic at times, his palette is bold and bright often sporting a richly textured surface, but always intimate and multi-leveled. Though it is readily accessible on a colorabie design level as pure visual entertainment, it also speaks and communicates in nuanced tones to the psyches of receptive viewers.
Aharonian, a long-standing member of the Ogunquit Art Association. (his work can always be seen at the association's exhibitions at the Ogunquit Arts Collaborative Gallery in Ogunquit) has a fully packed three state (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) exhibition schedule lined up for the upcoming season. He will have major shows at the Artship Gallery in South Harwich, Mass. and the Harborside Atlantic Club in Portsmouth, and in June, exhibitions of his work will be on display at the Cafe Brioche and the Jester's Comedy Club (both in Portsmouth) and at the Gallery Tactora in Kittery.
Stuart Nudelman is a fine art photographer and chairman of the photography department of the Heartwood College of Art in Arundel.